This is Holy Week – 2023

This is Holy Week – 2023

I am not sure if it is just me but the fact that we are in the middle of Holy Week is something up to now I have barely noticed.

What is perhaps significant regarding Holy Week 2023 compared with recent years is firstly this year it overlaps with the Jewish Passover that in essence was to do with freedom from slavery and it also falls inside the Islamic month of Ramadan. Secondly, there is so much going on in the world right now that I have identified as being in the momentous category and depending how you look at it could be seen as damaging and disturbing or, if God is indeed in control, liberating because however dire things appear God is on the Throne. His plans are good; we need to seek His face. As one who blogs concerning such matters, I find it refreshing to contemplate what it is that Holy Week represents and how the two might relate.

As many folk who know me know, my formative, early years as a Christian were as part of a group called Plymouth Brethren (in my case, Open and middle of the road section). While things have changed; in the early days, PBs did not celebrate special days. The argument went that, unlike most denominations (PBs claimed they weren’t a denomination), every day we should be thinking about the Incarnation (Christmas) and Resurrection (Easter) of our Lord but most particularly His atoning death (Good Friday). At the back of the building of the church I attended much of my life is a text reminding us of the first Passover that took place just prior to the Exodus and reminding preachers they need to preach on the Blood.

I note in the Jewish calendar that from the Evening of Wednesday, April 5, 2023 until the Evening of Thursday, April 13, 2023 is the Passover celebration. I mention this as a number of Christians I know follow the Jewish calendar, including a Christianised version of Passover, arguing this is biblical whereas Easter, like Christmas, was brought in by the not the remnant church as a fudge and one that took over pagan practices. Me – I am ambivalent to the two approaches. If I hadn’t endured PB indoctrination, I might have gone with the Anglican calendar, where every day of the year has some sort of religious significance and in recognising this the church is able to cover most of the doctrinally significant aspects of the Christian faith in a single calendar year. This was brought home to me yesterday when someone asked me who in my close circle celebrated Lent. I couldn’t think of any and added back in the day my late mother gave up chocolate and other luxuries during Lent.

I note the 40 days of Lent this year is Wednesday, February 22, 2023 until Thursday, April 6, 2023 and also worth noting this year the Muslim 30 day period of Ramadam overlaps: Thursday, 23 March 2023 to Thursday, 20 April 2023. Both Lent and Ramadam is a time of fasting prayer, although I suspect even among the majority of those who follow Lent the fasting undertaken is more limited.

I have not done all that much differently during this Holy Week compared with other weeks. I am planning to go to the Good Friday Service held at my church and to the Easter Sunday service, where I expect there will be extra emphasis on the death and resurrection of Jesus. If things were different and I belonged to a certain sort of Anglican set up, I could well entertain the idea of giving up something for Lent and making this a period of solemn preparation for the Big Day, that is preceded by a number of other significant days, where there would be suitable spiritual responses, such as on Palm Sunday, when Jesus made His way up to Jerusalem riding on a donkey and hailed as the Messiah that had been prophesied and Good Friday, when we consider Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins. Then the Big Day (Easter Sunday) comes, for Jesus rose from the dead. Sober reflection is replaced by jubilant celebration, including maybe a pre-dawn rise and a champagne breakfast.   

Holy Week is a time when preachers come up with holy homilies relating to significant happenings in that first Holy Week. Besides the thoughts shared above, I would like to share two well loved hymns often sung during this time. If I were soberly reflecting and going without chocolate and the like during the lead up to Easter, I might be dwelling on the words “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all”. If I were sipping my champagne during the dawn breakfast on Easter Day, I might be dwelling on the words “And He lives forever, with His saints to reign, He arose! He arose, Hallelujah Christ arose!” Whether or not one does anything special during Holy Week 2023 or we go down the Passover route, focusing on the fact Jesus is the Passover Lamb, is a matter of individual choice. But we do well to meditate on Him who died in shame on Friday and rose from the dead, in triumph, on Sunday.  


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